Ports & Ships Maritime News

May 5, 2008
Author: P&S

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A new Blog from Africa, the Outside Edge traveller and adventurer Kingsley Holgate is now up in the SEA STORIES section

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  • Zanzibar ferry Seagull goes aground off Mombasa but is later pulled clear

  • Tanzanian MPs withdraw their threat to fire TICTS

  • Shipwreck discovery has Namibia excited

  • Not a happy cruise or three

  • Expanding Australia

  • Rio Tinto Alcan says we’re still interested in Coega

  • Japan agrees to finance Mombasa port development

  • Pic of the day – MAERSK GLOUCESTER


    Watch a short 4.5 minute video clip about ship stowaway searches CLICK HERE and follow the link

    Zanzibar ferry Seagull goes aground off Mombasa but is later pulled clear

    A Zanzibar-based passenger ferry, Seagull-Zanzibar went aground 3 kilometres from the port entrance to Mombasa on Wednesday last week. The incident occurred after the vessel encountered strong winds and currents which forced the vessel onto the Nyali reef.

    Seagull-Zanzibar has a passenger capacity of 400 and operates a shuttle between Zanzibar, Dar es Salaam and Pemba. However cat the time the ferry was en route to Mombasa to undergo a dry docking and was carrying a crew of 15 with no passengers, according to the Mombasa Maritime Rescue Coordination Centre (MRCC).

    Seagull was later towed off the reef and into harbour showing a slight list after water found its way into the ruptured hull.

    In a second casualty report from the East African coast, a coal ship from South Africa was reported to have sunk near Zanzibar also on Wednesday. Initial reports indicated that nine seafarers had lost their lives but little detail including the name of the ship has been forthcoming and it is possible that the accident has been confused with that of the ferry Seagull-Zanzibar.

    A spokesman for the Mombasa MRCC told Ports & Ships on Friday that he had no reports of a coal ship sinking or missing.

    Tanzanian MPs withdraw their threat to fire TICTS

    Tanzanian members of parliament, which were demanding the withdrawal of the Tanzania International Container Terminal Services (TICTS) operating licence on the grounds of poor performance, have backed off after listening to explanations by TICTS’ management.

    The MPs were upset with continual criticism of the port of Dar es Salaam regarding congestion and delays, which led to a number of shipping lines bypassing the port in favour of Mombasa. At the same time neighbouring landlocked countries including Uganda, Rwanda, Burundi and the Eastern DRC have been placing pressure on Tanzania to provide them with an alternative port and road/rail facility.

    The meeting with the MPs took the form of a seminar which was arranged by TICTS management and had the result of the MPs deciding to withdraw their motion asking government to transfer the licence to another operator.

    An unnamed TICTS official told the local Dar es Salaam newspaper This Day that the MPs had not been in possession of the facts and had gathered a one-sided view of the situation. Once TICTS had been able to explain both sides of the matter the parliamentarians had been satisfied, he said.

    Shipwreck discovery has Namibia excited

    Instead of diamonds they found a treasure trove of gold coins, cannon, ship navigation instruments and ivory all of which may prove to be around 500 years old.

    The discovery announced last week has excited historians and marine archaeologists who think the shipwreck may turn out to be one of the oldest ever found off the sub-Saharan African coast.

    The shipwreck was discovered in Nambeb’s Mining Area One off the Namibian coast about a month ago, but has only now been revealed. The actual site is thought to be close to Oranjemund and efforts will now be directed at researching ships that have disappeared while on voyages round Africa around the beginning of the 16th Century.

    Among the relics recovered are gold Spanish and Portuguese coins, tonnes of copper ingots, bronze cannons some of which have been identified as being of Spanish breechloader design, pewter tableware and more than 50 elephant tusks. None of the coins are dated after the early 1500s and some carry depictions of Spain’s King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabella who ruled Spain from the late 1400s.

    As a result of the discovery all mining in the immediate area has ceased and a team has begun investigating the site. Portuguese specialists have also been notified and are expected to send a team to assist with deciphering the unexpected treasure.

    A spokesman for Namdeb, Hilifa Mbako described the discovery as of immense national and international interest and easily Namibia’s most important archaeological discovery of recent times.

    Not a happy cruise or three

    Hepatitis scare on the Aurora

    It couldn’t have been the most pleasant aftermath to an 11-week round the world cruise for several hundred passengers coming off the P&O ship Aurora who have had to undergo testing for Hepatitis E, following an outbreak onboard the ship.

    Seven passengers contracted the illness during the voyage which ended in Southampton on 28 March, leading to the UK’s Health Protection Agency (HPA) sending letters to all passengers requesting they submit a blood sample.

    Altogether about 1,100 passengers volunteered to be screened but of the 600 who provided blood samples a number have been sent a questionnaire requesting information about what food they ate and drank on board the ship and ashore.

    Hepatitis E can be spread through contaminated food and person to person transmission is considered highly unlikely. The disease can take up to 60 fays to reveal itself.

    A spokesman for the HPA said the ship undergoes regular rigorous health procedures and has tested highly in a recent public health inspection.

    Mona Lisa goes aground


    Passengers on board another cruise ship, the Mona Lisa had an unexpected and unwanted experience yesterday (Sunday 4 May) when the ship went aground off the northwest coast of Latvia in the Baltic.

    There were no injuries and the ship is in no immediate danger, a coastguard spokesman said. Most of the 984 people on board are German.

    Another P&O ship in the wars

    Hundreds of passengers on board the P&O Cruises vessel Pacific Sun also found themselves making an unplanned stop this past weekend when the ship was forced to drop anchor in a shipping channel near Moreton Island off the coast of Queensland.

    The ship apparently experienced engine trouble but was fortunately in deep water with little risk of going aground. Pacific Sun was on a cruise to Noumea at the time.

    Expanding Australia

    Australia, already known for its big horizons, stands to grow its borders by 35 percent after having received approval to expand its boundaries under the 1982 United Nations Convention of the Law of the Sea (Unclos). This is the first time that any country has been given the nod to enact the law and as a result Australia will gain an additional 2.5 million square kilometres under its jurisdiction.

    The treaty allows for nations to claim territory beyond the 200 n.mile boundary provided it can be proved the continental shelf extends beyond that figure. The claim would normally be capped at 350 n.miles unless the ocean continues to be shallow, and then provided it remains less than 2,500 metres deep the country may claim an additional 100 n.miles beyond the edge where the continental shelf falls away.

    It’s not simply a matter of being able to extend one’s borders or territorial waters but has significant implications with regards to undersea mining, in particular oil and gas.

    It’s now anticipated that certain other countries will follow the Australian example with similar applications.

    Rio Tinto Alcan says we’re still interested in Coega

    The fledgling port of Ngqura in the Eastern Cape – still trying to land an anchor tenant

    Rio Tinto Alcan has confirmed its commitment of building an aluminium smelter at Coega adjacent to the port of Ngqura, despite recent statements that the project could be abandoned owing to the electricity crisis in South Africa.

    Rio Tinto Alcan chief executive Dick Evans said recently that the smelter might be abandoned because of delays likely from the shortage of available electricity. But last week Alcan was playing this down saying that the smelter was simply on hold and that a team consisting of Rio Tinto Alcan people, representatives of the South African government and Eskom would meet to review the position with regards the timing of the project.

    Eskom has placed proposals before government and business that a moratorium be declared on new developments that require large amounts of electricity, at least until the utility company is able to meet existing demand.

    Japan agrees to finance Mombasa port development

    Japan has formally agreed to provide a KSh15 billion (USD242.7 million) grant towards the Mombasa port development project.

    According to the Japanese embassy an agreement between the two governments will be signed in mid month.

    The new ambassador Mr Shigeo Iwatani said his government was impressed with Kenya’s economic growth and development and is keen to assist the country. “We have a number of projects in the pipeline and will begin with the signing of the exchange note towards the development of the Mombasa port,” he said in Nairobi.

    The development plans for the port of Mombasa include dredging of the approaches and alongside the quays plus the development of a second container terminal.

    Pic of the day – MAERSK GLOUCESTER

    Click on image to enlarge – with some browsers click twice

    MAERSK GLOUCESTER (50,686-gt, 61,4545-dwt), one of a number of recently built large and moderately fast container ships in operation with Maersk Line, seen in Durban at the recent weekend. The 292m long Panamax vessel has a maximum container capacity of 4825-TEU. Picture by Trevor Jones

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